A WA-led project to enhance treatment and care for adults and children with mild traumatic brain injury has been awarded a $2.99 million grant from Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund, Mission for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Harnessing informatics, the aim will be to develop a suite of interactive online models for data collection and linking, predicting outcomes and identifying personalised care pathways.

Professor Melinda (Lindy) Fitzgerald, Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research at Curtin University and who heads the Neurotrauma Research group at the Perron Institute, is the lead Chief Investigator, collaborating with a large national consortium of leaders in mild traumatic brain injury care, health informatics and implementation science.

Dr Sarah Hellewell, Senior Research Fellow in Neurotrauma at the Perron Institute and Curtin University is also a Chief Investigator, coordinating national collection of neuroimaging and blood biomarker data to link brain changes to outcome.

“Around 180,000 Australians experience mild traumatic brain injury each year,” Dr Hellewell said. “Of these, we think only about 40 per cent receive any health care.

“While most people recover within a few weeks, up to 40% of people will have long-term symptoms affecting patients, their families and society as a whole.

“Repeated mild traumatic brain injury occurs in many contexts, such as sport, domestic violence and the military, and worsens outcomes. Despite decades of empirical research, prediction of those outcomes remains elusive.

“Recovery can also be hindered by inconsistent management, lack of effective treatments and low community awareness.”

Professor Fitzgerald said: “With this significant support from the Medical Research Future Fund, the AUS-mTBI team will develop and implement digital models that accurately predict type, severity and duration of symptoms, and can be used to personalise care.

“This predictive approach incorporating tailored and timely interventions will optimise outcomes for people following mild traumatic brain injury.

“The online platforms embedded into health practice will support GPs and physiotherapists to manage patients effectively, including in rural and regional Australia. Partnering with health services and professional organisations will ensure nationwide implementation.”

Programs are included that are specific for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, designed by Aboriginal researchers. General practitioners, physiotherapists and other healthcare providers as well as patients themselves will be able to input data and consult the resource.

Fifty Partner organisations are involved, including Curtin University, Perron Institute, Edith Cowan University, Monash University, Deakin University, Griffith University, Queensland Brain Institute, Curve Tomorrow, Synapse Australia and Macquarie University.